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Coconut Unlimited [Kindle Edition]

Nikesh Shukla
4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (21 customer reviews)

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Book Awards
An Award-Nominated Book
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Book Description

Shortlisted for the Costa First Novel Award 2010. It's Harrow in the 1990s, and Amit, Anand and Nishant are stuck. Their peers think they're a bunch of try-hard 'darkies', acting street and pretending to be cool, while their community thinks they're rich toffs, a long way from the 'real' Asians in Southall. So, to keep it real, they form legendary hip-hop band 'Coconut Unlimited'. Pity they can't rap. From struggling to find records in the suburbs and rehearsing on rubbish equipment, to evading the clutches of disapproving parents and real life drug-dealing gangsters, Coconut Unlimited documents every teenage boy's dream and the motivations behind it: being in a band to look pretty cool - oh, and get girls...

Product Description


'An entertaining portrayal of late-adolescent angst and musical ineptitude, Coconut Unlimited will have a broad appeal not limited merely to those who are nostalgic for high-tops and a time when Skee-Lo's "I Wish I Was a Little Bit Taller" was still in the charts.' GQ, October 2010

'...a riot of cringeworthy moments made real by Shukla's beautifully observed characters and talent for teen banter.' Metro, October 2010

'Energetic, tender and fizzing with some hilariously awful rapping.' The Word, November 2010

'Without attempting to smack you in the face with originality (or whatever else new writers think they need to do to get attention), it manages to be heartfelt and an utter pleasure to spend time with. Indeed, it's hard to imagine anyone being anything other than charmed by Shukla's endlessly readable prose. Possibly the most fun this writer has had with new fiction this year.' Bookmunch, November 2010

'Funny and irreverent.' Guardian, December 2010

About the Author

Nikesh Shukla is a London-based author, filmmaker and poet. His writing has featured on BBC2, BBC Radio 1 and 4, and BBC Asian Network. He has performed at Royal Festival Hall, Book Club Boutique, Soho Theatre, The Big Chill, Rise Festival and Glastonbury. He is currently working on a sitcom for Channel 4.

Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 379 KB
  • Print Length: 201 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 0704372045
  • Simultaneous Device Usage: Unlimited
  • Publisher: Quartet Books (24 Sept. 2012)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (21 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #191,477 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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More About the Author

Nikesh Shukla is a writer of fiction and television.

His new novel, Meatspace, is out now on The Friday Project..

His debut novel, Coconut Unlimited was shortlisted for the Costa First Novel Award 2010 and longlisted for the Desmond Elliott Prize 2011. Metro described it as '...a riot of cringeworthy moments made real by Shukla's beautifully observed characters and talent for teen banter.' In 2011, Nikesh co-wrote a non-fiction essay about the riots with Kieran Yates called Generation Vexed: What the Riots Don't Tell Us About Our Nation's Youth. In 2013, he released a novella about food, called The Time Machine , donating all his proceeds to Roy Castle Lung Cancer Foundation.

His short stories have been featured in the following places: Best British Short Stories 2013, Five Dials, The Moth Magazine, Pen Pusher, The Sunday Times, Book Slam, BBC Radio 4, First City Magazine and Teller Magazine. He has written for the Guardian, Esquire and BBC 2. He has, in the past, been writer in residence for BBC Asian Network and Royal Festival Hall.

His Channel 4 Comedy Lab Kabadasses aired on E4 and Channel 4 in 2011 and starred Shazad Latif, Jack Doolan and Josie Long.

He hosts The Subaltern podcast, the anti-panel discussion featuring conversations with writers about writing. Guests have included Zadie Smith, Junot Diaz, Teju Cole, James Salter, George Saunders, Jennifer Egan, Evie Wyld, Sam Bain, Alex Preston, Colson Whitehead and more. He also co-hosts a nerdier podcast with sci-fi writer James Smythe, called Meat Up, Hulk Out.

He likes Spider-man comics. A lot.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
19 of 19 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Relive your Teen Years (from a distance!) 2 Dec. 2010
I am a married, white female, more into Indie rather than Hip Hop in my youth, so according to the law of averages/preconceptions, I shouldn't have enjoyed Coconut Unlimited at all but, contrary as ever, it ended up as one of my favourite reads in November. This is one of the joys of receiving a wide variety of novels to review - many thanks to Quartet Books for sending this gem my way.

Our narrator, Amit, is a bit of a misfit, an Asian youth on whose narrow shoulders are placed the weighty expectations of his ambitious parents. He attends an almost exclusively white private school in Harrow where he and his pals, Anand and Nishant are subjected to daily tirades of racial abuse from both pupils and teachers. They're equally estranged from the local Asian community and are dubbed "coconuts" - brown on the outside but white on the inside. The boys decide to adopt a completely different approach, neither white not Asian, worshipping instead at the shrine of Hip Hop - a route which is somewhat encumbered by the fact that they don't actually know of that many Hip Hop artists and are reduced to swiping old cassettes from relatives to record from the elusive vinyl.

Amit's mother would much prefer that he bought a nice, sensible pair of jeans from C&A (cringe..) rather than the ludicrously baggy hip hop style - cue memories of my own dear mother despairing of my teenage penchant for black clothing, black eyes and gravity defying hairstyles held together with cheap gel and occasionally a sugar and water mixture...
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars both funny and touching... 1 Nov. 2010
By Corrie
I loved this story, set around the same time I grew up, though on the opposite side of the world, I still totally related to it... It is funny, and also heartbreaking and moving... Paired with a great soundtrack, took you right back to that time... A must read for anyone growing up listening to 90's hiphop, in fact even if you didnt - still worth checking...
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Loved it 19 Nov. 2010
By Mary T
Bittersweet and poignant believable "story". The characters in this story were cleverly brought to life. Brilliant, easy to read- made me chuckle made me sad and very thoughtful too.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars An Unusual, Interesting & Funny Debut 27 Dec. 2010
`Coconut Unlimited' does seem like it could be very much on the authors, Nikesh Shulka's, youth. It's a tale of Amit from his childhood growing up in Harrow in North West London in the mid 1990's. Born left handed his Indian family are rather concerned for him due to its religious connotations and so he is sent to a very white and rather middle/upper class private school where the teachers are known to make racist comments and expect no comeback. With his friends Anand and Nishant they create a rap band based on their passion for hip-hop (such as the Wu Tang Clan, Skee-Lo, Nas etc - which really took me back - who in honesty some of them have never heard of and in fact some of them make up hip-hop acts they have heard of to try and sound street) called `Coconut Unlimited' as his sister says `because you are brown on the outside and white on the inside'.

The story then follows the bands highs and the lows both as they try and get noticed, get street (with some very funny consequences) and also whilst they deal with the perils of growing up and becoming men and belonging. It is much more than just a coming of age story, with humour Shukla deals with the issues of race and class as they were, and in some cases still are, just a decade ago. It is very funny, occasionally in a slightly bittersweet way, and if you didn't or don't love hip hop there is much to entertain you whilst enlightening you and certainly making you laugh and remembering your awkward teenage years.

Nikesh Shukla has a great voice, and in writing through the eyes of Amit he never makes the reader feel patronised, it's all very authentic. In fact I would say that he deals with these three young men with a kind of tenderness which adds that extra something to the novel as a whole. His prose is fluid and energetic which may have something to do with the fact Shukla is a performance poet. It's a very promising debut from a novelist I think we will be seeing much more from in the future.
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15 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Better than chocolate cake.... 9 Nov. 2010
Totally related to this novel, very original and hilarious to boot. Finally an Asian novel written by an Asian that will appeal to all. Really worth reading and Nikesh is a voice to watch out for.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
By neats
I picked up this book for my husband who was born and bought up in Harrow and thought he would enjoy it. He didn't bother so I read it instead. He actually thought it would be full of stereotypes and not be all that funny. He was wrong and Im going to get him to read this now!

It is a kind of coming of age book about the main character, Amit, growing up in Harrow and attending a white private school. He doesn't quite fit into the rich white school but doesn't quite fit into the Asian community in Harrow either. Where he does seek solace is in music - hip hop. This is a story of a teenager facing the world, trying to find his place and fit in - oh and pull girls!

The main character, Amit, is so real and you feel his every thoughts and actions. There are so many cringing moments and times I just thought, god, he deserves all the abuse he gets at school! However, you start to understand his insecurities, turmoil and struggles of self discovery, dealing with racism, stereotypes and expectations. For an Asian person growing up in a largely white area, this can be particularly harsh. Many people may not realise the racism that exists in schools from teachers and students on a daily basis. I know my friends were shocked to hear this but I assure you, this is true and I thank Shukla for writing about this.

This is a light read but has the right balance of being descriptive in places without over doing it. Shukla can tell a great story and it shows in the writing. The book takes you back to a time when most teenagers feel lost and are still finding themselves in the world. A time when friends are so very important to you and music means everything. We can all relate to this even if you did not grow up in Harrow or like hip hop.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars Silly and fun
Set in the 90s, this book follows a group of young Asian lads who decide they want to start a hip hop band, despite the fact that none of them are any good at rapping, dancing or... Read more
Published 15 days ago by Minimoo
5.0 out of 5 stars A very assured debut, ya knaaaa
Rap and hip-hop is an area far beyond my comfort zone. However, a combination of the author’s biography and the cover illustration prompted me to buy this book and I am very... Read more
Published 7 months ago by Dr R
1.0 out of 5 stars A hip Goodness Gracious Me
So bad it's bad. Really awful. Just plain bad. The attempts at humour strain to breaking point in this BBC3 sketch show of a comic novella. Read more
Published 8 months ago by Buddy
4.0 out of 5 stars Very funny! Sort of like an Asian Nick Hornby.
I really enjoyed this book. Anyone who has '90s memories will too - remember standing in a record store, not knowing how to tell which records were good, not being able to waste... Read more
Published 14 months ago by Leila Rasheed
5.0 out of 5 stars Privately educated Asian boy wants to be down with the youth in the...
This a hilarious book. Beautifully catches the longing of geeky kids trying to be cool. Made me laugh out loud!
Published 17 months ago by M. S. Manson
4.0 out of 5 stars great fun, Shukla is one to watch
I think that Nikesh Shukla captured a few truths about adolescence. His protagonists are middle-class Asians in the mid 90s adopting US hip-hop influences because they don't feel... Read more
Published on 7 April 2012 by Asanka Gurusinghe
5.0 out of 5 stars "Yoko Meena" I see what you did there!
This was a really fun and easy read. I was a bit apprehensive at first from reading the initial greeting between the main characters but that was soon forgiven and forgotten. Read more
Published on 13 Mar. 2012 by stellar
3.0 out of 5 stars Coconut Unlimited
This novel was nice. It sounds a bit weak but that's how I felt about it. I've read a lot of novels by British-Asian writers that put across the British Asian `experience' (for... Read more
Published on 7 Feb. 2012 by BCT
3.0 out of 5 stars Enjoyable nostalgia piece with somewhat dissatisfying conclusion
Coconut Unlimited by Nikesh Shukla was nominated for the 2010 Costa First Novel Award. It tells the story of Amit, preparing for his wedding to Alice, Amit is visited by childhood... Read more
Published on 4 Feb. 2012 by R. A. Davison
4.0 out of 5 stars Reminded me of my youth!
As you are reading this book you will often find yourself drifting back to your own youth and living alongside the three lads within this book. Read more
Published on 2 Jan. 2012 by Me, Myself and I
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